Kentucky juniors, third baseman Max Kuhn and right-hander Chandler Shepherd, and fifth-year senior catcher Micheal Thomas were selected in 2014 MLB Draft Saturday.
A native of Zionsville, Ind., Kuhn was picked in the 13th round by the Athletics, the second time in his career he has been drafted by Oakland, also going as a 24th round pick out of high school in 2011.
Kuhn, a second-team All-Southeastern Conference selection, has hit .289 (133-for-460) in his three-year UK career, playing in 121 games with 116 starts. Kuhn has belted 27 doubles, two triples, 13 homers and owns 90 RBI, stealing 10 bases, while owning a .441 slugging and a .406 on-base percentage.
In 2014, Kuhn had a career year with the bat, hitting .324 with 18 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 58 RBI, owning 43 walks for a .437 on-base percentage. As a freshman, Kuhn played in five games off the bench, collecting one hit. As a sophomore, Kuhn started 54 of UK’s 55 games, hitting .242 with nine doubles, one triple, five homers and 29 RBI, stealing seven bases.
Shepherd has been selected in the 13th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, going No. 404 overall, by the Boston Red Sox.
A native of Louisa, Ky., Shepherd was drafted for the second time in his career, also going to the Chicago White Sox out of Lawrence County High School in 2011.
Shepherd has had a decorated three-year career for the Wildcats, owning a 13-6 mark in 60 games and 19 starts, charting a 3.45 ERA in 188 innings, saving two games, walking 57 and striking out 128. Shepherd opened his UK career in 2012 on the school-record 45-win team, appearing in 18 games with nine starts, owning a 3-1 record and a 3.83 ERA, saving one NCAA Tournament game in 56.1 innings.
As a sophomore, Shepherd served as UK’s go-to reliever, appearing in 26 games with one start, owning a 5-0 record and a 2.77 ERA in 55.1 innings. After an all-star summer in the Cape Cod League, Shepherd – who was also the 2012 Perfect Game Collegiate League Pitcher of the Year – shined early in the UK weekend rotation in 2014. After a forearm laceration handcuffed his junior campaign and forced him out for 21 days, Shepherd returned in a relief role after his injury, also making one start. Shepherd, who opened the year 5-0, finished the year 5-5 with a 3.66 ERA in 16 games and nine starts, hurling a career-best 76.1 innings, striking out 56.
A native of Elizabethtown, Ky., Thomas was nabbed in the 22nd round by the Tigers, his first career draft selection.
Kentucky has had a program-record 38 players drafted or sign a professional contract in the six years of the UK head coach Gary Henderson era, with at least four players drafted in every season. Since Henderson and recruiting coordinator Brad Bohannon arrived on campus in 2004, Kentucky has had 60 players drafted or sign a professional contract.
Thomas starred for the Wildcats behind the plate in 2014, starting 57 of UK’s 62 games behind the plate. He hit .315 with 11 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 45 RBI as a senior, with a .484 slugging and a .402 on-base percentage. A defensive dynamo for the last two seasons, Thomas finished his 137-game UK career with a .995 fielding percentage. In his career, Thomas hit .279 (107-for-383) with 17 doubles, one triple, 12 homers and 70 RBI, with six steals.
After collecting 26 at-bats in his first three years on campus, Thomas emerged as the everyday backstop in 2013, belting three homers and owning 21 RBI. As a senior, Thomas solidified himself as one of the top defensive catchers in college baseball, while serving as a middle-of-the-order run producer. He finished 2014 ranked fifth in the Southeastern Conference, and first among league catchers, in homers, ranking 12th in RBI.